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Total Crap: 4.76%

2 reviews, 9 user ratings

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Captain America: Civil War
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by alejandroariera

5 stars

Rarely do I leave a movie theater or press screening feeling that I have to see that movie right…bloody…now! I usually like to spend a couple of days thinking about it, reading what’s been written about it, before I write my own review. It takes me awhile to revisit it: weeks, months, even years. “Captain America: Civil War,” the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), is the exception to that rule. It left me so giddy, so exhilarated, that I wanted the projectionist at the IMAX Theatre were I saw it during a word-of-mouth screening to show it again. It is as good as, even better than, “Captain America: Winter Soldier.” And it’s definitely an improvement over the disappointingly over-stuffed “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

“Captain America: Civil War” is loosely based on Mark Millar’s and Steve McNiven’s limited but pivotal seven-issue series “Marvel: Civil War.” In that series, the U.S. government passed the Superhuman Regulation Act which required any individual with superhuman abilities to be registered as a “living weapon of mass destruction.” In the film, it’s the United Nations, under the auspices of the King of the African kingdom of Wakanda, —and with a little push from the U.S. Secretary of State (William Hurt reprising his role of Thaddeus Ross, Hulk’s nemesis)— that passes a similar agreement that would give the UN regulatory power over the superhuman population after an Avengers-led operation in Lagos, Nigeria cost the lives of a Wakandan scientific delegation.
As in the comic book series, the act splits our heroes in two camps: one in support, led by Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), who is still coming to terms with the role his company played in many of the world’s conflicts; and against, led by Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans).

Both comic book series and film deal with the issues of causality and the collateral damage inflicted by these heroes’ actions (a subject cynically and condescendingly broached by Zack Snyder’s deplorable box-office hit “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” early this year). But whereas the comics dealt with such thorny issues as our willingness to gave up some of our rights and liberties for the sake of security, the stakes are far more personal in the film. Yes, Captain America rightfully fears that the measure will lead to the eventual persecution and misuse of beings with superhuman abilities like him. But all bets are off when his best friend Bucky Barnes a.k.a. Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is sought by Rogers’ former allies and world governments for his apparent role in the bombing of the U.N. building during the signing of the act.

For T’Challa a.k.a. Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), it is also personal since, as the new king of Wakanda, he must avenge his father who died in the terrorist attack. Behind the scenes lurks the mysterious figure of Zemo (a quiet, measured, and in the end strangely touching performance by the Spanish-German actor Daniel Brühl). He is not a super villain, mind you, but a human one that uses his brain and anger for reasons that Christopher Markus’ and Stephen McFeely’s script makes devastatingly clear in the film’s final minutes. Unlike some critics who felt that Zemo was underused and his raison d'etre underwhelming, I felt that the motivation for his actions tied perfectly with the film’s core themes of responsibility and consequences.

With its globetrotting action sequences, “Captain America: Civil War” feels like the superhero answer to the Jason Bourne films (although, let’s face it, Bourne at times acts like a superhero). A spectacular chase sequence that begins with Bucky breaking out from his high-security glass prison in Berlin and ends in that city’s tunnels is as exciting as any of the car chase sequences in the Paul Greengrass-directed Bourne films. And even though, plotwise, it’s a direct follow-up to “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” tonally and thematically “Captain America: Civil War” is truly one of a piece with the Captain American films that preceded it. While “The First Avenger” is an idealistic, pulpy celebration of the Greatest Generation and “Winter Soldier” a Cold War spy movie with superhero trappings, “Civil War” takes place in a globalized political environment where you must “watch your back” (as Tony Stark is told several times throughout the movie) because you never know where the next threat is coming from.

The Russo Brothers, Markus and McFeely also manage to integrate into this grand conflict small, intimate, personal moments: an old friend is laid to rest by Rogers; the mother of one of the victims of the events that transpired in the last Avengers film confronts Stark; Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) teaches Vision (Paul Bettany) how to use the right amount of paprika in a meal; and a geeky, enthusiastic Peter Parker (Tom Holland taking over Tobey Maguire’s mantle as the definitive Spidey) tries and fails to hide his excitement when Stark visits him and his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) in his Queens apartment. There is even some space for levity in that match between giants (including a literal one) in the tarmac of Leipzig’s airport, as Spidey and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) can’t stop expressing their awe at fighting with and against the Avengers.

As if juggling these many balls wasn’t enough, they also have to introduce the aforementioned Black Panther and Spiderman to the MCU. They smartly integrate Black Panther’s origin story to the script (thus guaranteeing an original story for the character’s first solo adventure) while totally dispensing with Spidey’s. They know that we know his origin story…and so does Stark, which makes his tete a tete with Peter Parker that much more amusing and fun. In Boseman we have hero that is regal, dignified and fierce. And Holland’s Peter/Spidey is that nerdy, nervous, smart boy most of us who grew up reading books and science-fiction novels can identify with. I love Andrew Garfield as an actor but his Peter was too mopey, too emo for my taste. Holland hits all the right notes; hopefully Marvel will find a writer and a director that can do him justice.

The “Captain America” trilogy stands alongside Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy” as one of the best comic book adaptations in the genre’s history. By borrowing tropes and tone from other genres, by grounding its plot and story in the everyday, by giving its characters room to breathe and grow, the Russo Brothers are teaching pretenders like Zack Snyder a thing or two about what makes a proper superhero movie tick. Snyder should take notes; if he and his bosses at Warner Brothers are smart enough, they should hit the rest button on “Justice League.” Because, at this point, “Captain America: Civil War” is a hard movie to beat. Your move, Bryan Singer.

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originally posted: 05/06/16 01:00:00
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User Comments

7/29/17 Dr. Lao If they had not made Spiderman so annoying, I would have given 5 stars 4 stars
2/13/17 morris campbell best superhero movie of 2016 5 stars
1/03/17 Charles Tatum Simply "good." 4 stars
8/06/16 chad cowgill Amazing! Antman and Spiderman were my favorites! 5 stars
6/02/16 Chelsie Entertaining, Enjoyable, Amazing! 5 stars
6/01/16 JR Just awful. A complete and utter waste of time. A massive bore. 1 stars
5/15/16 KingNeutron A bit long, but well worth it - see it on the big screen 4 stars
5/13/16 Chelsie Entertaining, Enjoyable, Amazing! 5 stars
5/07/16 Ruth Goaz Hey Sobczynski, yhis is a 5-star masterpiece of the highest order. 5 stars
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  06-May-2016 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Sep-2016

  29-Apr-2016 (12A)

  DVD: 13-Sep-2016

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